On her new Sturgill Simpson-produced LP, Deluxe Hotel Room, Lucette explores all types of love and the relationships that come with it. I recently spoke with the Canadian-born musician about her hometown of Edmonton, writing serious songs, and how making the new album gave her the courage to open up to others.
Chris Wolford: The leadoff track sets the stage for what’s to come: lovelorn narrators, dreams of better lives, and something sinister always lurking around every corner. When discussing the album, you talked about where the title and subject matter originated from. Were there any themes or topics you weren’t able to address on the album that you tried to but couldn’t quite put into words?
Lucette: I feel as though this album is so autobiographical, and I really knocked off a lot of things that I felt strongly about. In retrospect, there’s always other things I would have loved to write about, but that’s what the next album is for!
CW: “Out of the Rain” has a classic feel to it. It’s the kind of song you swear you’ve heard before but can’t quite place where. Were there particular artists, past or present, you wanted to channel when making the album?
L: Thank you! My goal is to make music that feels classic but also modern. I’ve always loved Emmylou Harris, Rihanna, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Blaze Foley, and Elton John, to name a few. I guess I wanted to mix a lot of the elements of country and alt-country that I love with modern edges, and touches of soul.
CW: This is what I imagine being played at Twin Peak’s Roadhouse during happy hour. “Full Moon Town” has a very specific sense of place to it. How did growing up in Edmonton dictate both this song and your worldview in general?
L: That is the best vibe analysis ever! I think Edmonton has shaped a lot of who I am. It’s the most northerly city in North America with a population over 1 million, so it’s really cold, and kind of small town/big city vibe. I think the cold weather breeds a certain type of person, it almost makes you appreciate the sunshine and warm weather a lot more. “Full Moon Town” is less about Edmonton and more about the surrounding small towns and their conservative culture. Alberta definitely is going through some polarized political stuff right now, and a lot of scary people are coming out of the woodwork, so I do feel as though this song is super relevant,
CW: You said you wrote “Angel” about being “in a relationship that didn’t last long but, felt like the first time where a relationship was fun and not work.” Turning those ideas towards the music-making process, what was, for lack of a better word, easiest song to write on the album? And which one took the longest to work out?
L: This song did just kind of spill out of me, because I wasn’t worried about it being too serious. It was like the relationship - fun and not work [laughs]. I think 95% of my music is more for therapy and it felt nice to gift someone a love song that wasn’t so serious. I don’t know if it was the easiest song to write, but it definitely wasn’t as serious as some of the others. I feel like “Deluxe Hotel Room” probably took the longest because I started writing it alone, showed it to my talented friend Ben Stevenson, and then he started to talk about similar stories and situations in hotel rooms. I thought I was going to write it alone, but he started sending me ideas that were so relatable. We worked on this song for about a month or so, and then I went straight into the studio. A month probably seems like nothing to a lot of writers, but I’m the type of person that likes to write a song in a sitting. I definitely tweak things and edit over time, but I think you know when you have a good one.
CW: The gospel-tinged “Fly To Heaven” finds us at the halfway point of the album. It also continues with religious imagery. What about those particular themes do you gravitate toward?
L: I heard someone call themselves a “recovering catholic”, which made me laugh because it’s sort of how I feel. I think growing up religious formed a lot of who I am, but also gave me a love for gospel music that has been a constant companion. Plus I think a lot of people who aren’t religious think about afterlife, so why can’t there be gospel music for everyone? I might be giving you a clue into my next project there…
CW: “California” finds you returning to a sense of place, this time a little farther away from home. What are the biggest differences you’ve found between playing shows in the US versus Canada?
L: I don’t really think there are big differences between the two, except maybe people's taste in music.
CW: One of my favorite lyrics in the album comes from “Crazy Bird” (The sky’s for you/The earth’s for me). It could be read many ways cause it carries so much weight to it. What’s the backstory behind that particular line?
L: Thank you! It’s about being with someone so amazing but so out of touch with reality. I am definitely a free spirit, but I was the person holding the relationship together, the practical one. It felt like this person was a lovable hurricane. Does that make sense?
CW: All writers talk to themselves, which is why I think this song works on multiple levels. It’s a little like peeking behind the curtain at someone’s creative process and the internal struggle that goes on during it. Do you still find it difficult to share your work with others and if not, have there been any moments in particular that helped you get over that fear?
L: This album has been really amazing for me, because it’s the first time I’ve felt confident enough to open up with strangers about really raw stuff. It’s actually been therapeutic for me, because now I feel like I don’t have to be embarrassed about having issues with myself. I’m not sure if there was a specific moment that changed things, but I did write a letter and put it on my social media about my struggles, and it was amazing to see all of the love, support, and feedback I got.
CW: Closing out the album is “Lover Don’t Give Up on Me,” a song about yearning, heartbreak, and loss. Why did you make this the album’s closing track?
This was the last song I wrote for the record, and I wrote about a relationship I was in right before recording the album. I think because it is so raw, and was so relevant to me at the time, I wanted it to be the last thing people heard when listening.